The Witcher 3 is one of the best-selling and best-reviewed games of 2014 so far. CD Projekt won't be capitalizing on that success with a quicker sequel, though.
CEO Marcin Iwinski told Game Informer that they haven't even started talking about Witcher 4. He added that the franchise needs some time off:
"[The Witcher series] deserves some rest. The past 10 years the team has been working on swords and castles and medieval Slavic monsters. So I think it's time for some guns, androids, and some ammo. And a necropolis. So this is what we'll be working on.
The new project he's referring to is Cyberpunk 2077. This RPG, based on a pen-and-paper game series Cyberpunk, is set in a dystopian future where cybernetics, artificial intelligence and cloning are commonplace. Megacorporations are now more powerful than governments and will do whatever it takes to surpass their competitors.
True to its pen-and-paper roots, Cyberpunk 2077 will give players a lot of freedom. They can choose between several classes for their character and outfit them with various cybernetic upgrades, weapons and other equipment. The story is said to be non-linear as well. Presumably it features the branching quests and open-world exploration of The Witcher 3.
We've seen little of Cyberpunk 2077 outside of the CGI trailer from a few years back. CD Projekt confirmed in May that they won't share additional details in the near future, though. Instead, they consider 2015 and 2016 to be "the years of the Witcher." That suggests Cyberpunk 2077 won't be out until 2017 at the earliest.
Gamers will be busy with The Witcher 3 for quite awhile. The base game has several dozen hours' worth of entertainment (my total is around 82 hours now). The game will get significantly longer once its two expansion packs arrive. Hearts of Stone, due in October, will add another 10 hours while Blood and Wine, slated for early 2016, is said to be 20 hours long. That means the two expansions together are nearly the size of Witcher 2.
I could see CD Projekt alternating between The Witcher and Cyberpunk games in the years ahead, much like Bethesda Game Studios does with Fallout and Elder Scrolls. While this approach means gamers have to wait longer for sequels, it also means that the studio can focus on one game at a time and ensure that it's a quality experience.
A lot of other companies in CD Projekt's shoes would act very differently. Other big franchises like Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty and Battlefield are now tag-teamed by multiple studios. This ensures that a new sequel is ready to go each year.
While annualized sequels might maximize profits, I think there's something to be said for missing a franchise. A new Fallout, Witcher or even Grand Theft Auto feels more special because you had to wait so long for it. It's hard for me to feel the same kind of excitement for a new Assassin's Creed when I know there's going to be a sequel just a year later.